Have you been to the farmer's market and seen a large pig walking down the street? Gone to grab a book from the local bookstore and been greeted by a dog? Or perhaps you happened to be at the hospital and a sweet golden doodle was cheering up the nursing staff and visiting with patients? If the answer is yes, then you are one of the lucky ones to have been witness to Folsom's very own local pet celebrities.
Winnie is a 180lb mini pig owned by photographer Amber Shoop Feltz and John Feltz, who live in the Historic District. John takes Winnie out Saturday mornings, meandering down to the Folsom Famer's Market where she's greeted by all her admirers, young and old alike. Winnie usually leads the walk but if she needs any encouragement or direction, John usually has a fully shelled walnut for Winnie to devour.
Ruby is the co-owner, manager, and greeter of Ruby's Independent Bookstore on Sutter Street. She's also a Golden Retriever. Ruby and her owner, Stacy Gould started the bookstore in Folsom about 3 years ago. Like Winnie, Ruby has become well known around town and both animals have their image on stickers, artwork, and even a book written with them as the stars (Winnie and Ruby’s Folsom ABC Adventure, written and illustrated by Folsom local, Brian Wallace). If you look real close, you can even find Winnie's cute pig face inside the Wing Mural at Sutter and Wool Streets.
Amstel and Cinders are part of the Paw Platoon Placement Program by Hearts for Heroes, in-house therapy dogs who reside at local fire stations and hospitals. These in-training dogs proactively provide a multitude of mental health and wellness for critical incident stress relief. They are therapy dogs on a mission for mental health for heroes. Hearts for Heroes fully funds all aspects of training the therapy dogs. "Our handlers are heroes in solidarity, volunteering their time with the peer support team as handlers for mental health and wellness to their fellow crews", says Shelley Martell, Founder and Director of Hearts for Heroes.
Amstel, a 1-year-old male poodle, is the group's first rescue from Foothill Dog Rescue in Shingle Springs. He had a hard first year of life but they could tell that this sweet poodle was special and he passed all the requirements to be in the Paw Platoon program. The First Responders will get a kind therapy dog, and Amstel will get love from them too. It's a win win.
The Paw Platoon provides therapy services to the heroes on the frontline. Now, more than ever, it is crucial to protect the mental health and wellness of our first responders. Amstel provides emotional and mental wellness to our community and Fire/EMS crews. He is also a great companion to all of our other dogs and often is a mentor to them.
Cinders, a female golden doodle, was placed by the Paw Platoon program at Mercy Hospital of Folsom. She provides critical care to hospital staff and those who come to visit. She is also a community support dog. Not even one year old yet, Cinders has already been awarded the official Chief Therapy Dog Dignity Health badge.
We had so much fun getting these pets together for a playdate and photoshoot on Sutter Street with Winnie's human, Amber, taking the photos. We are so fortunate to have these celebrity pets in our city.